Optical imaging with fluorescent contrast agents is highly sensitive for molecular imaging but is limited in depth to a few centimeters below the skin. Planar fluorescence imaging with full-field, uniform illumination and scientific camera image capture provides a portable and robust configuration for real-time, sensitive fluorescence detection with scalable resolution, but is inherently surface weighted and therefore limited in depth to a few millimeters. At the NIR region (700–1000 nm), tissue absorption and autofluorescence are relatively reduced, increasing depth penetration and reducing background signal, respectively. Optical imaging resolution scales with depth, limiting microscopic resolution with multiphoton microscopy and optical coherence tomography to < 3 mm depth. Unfortunately, patient skin and peri-tumoral tissues are not uniform, varying in thickness and color, complicating subsurface fluorescence measurements. Diffuse optical imaging methods have been developed that better quantify optical signals relative to faster full-field planar reflectance imaging, but require long scan times, complex instrumentation, and reconstruction algorithms. Here we report a novel strategy for rapid measurement of subsurface fluorescence using structured light illumination to improve quantitation of deep-seated fluorescence molecular probe accumulation. This technique, in combination with highly specific, tumor-avid fluorescent molecular probes, will easily integrate noninvasive diagnostics for superficial cancers and fluorescence guided surgery.